A few years ago a small tribe of us wanted to reach out to people who felt excluded (for one reason or another) by the Church… and so we created, what some people called a ‘Church in a Bar’.
After much experimenting… or trial and error, we came up with a model that suited our characters, personalities, skills, gifts, shared vision and the perceived need before us… which was to throw a party once a week (sometimes twice) and invite people to come share a meal, a bit of music, some poetry, story telling and good old fashion banter. We would provide all the food (3 course meal), wine, music and an incredible venue, a shared live-work space (decorated and loved by James Alexander Langteaux) in an industrial part of LA. This phenomenon became known as ‘The What Club?’
15 people attended our first soirée. Most of them were not sure what we were up to but they had such a great time that they each asked… “can we invite some of our friends to this party next week?”
“Yes of course” we answered and within 6 months or so we had more than 300 people attending our weekly ‘church in a bar parties’… and on the odd occasion more than 600 turned up which was a bit much for our tribe of 11 people and a dog to manage.
The big event of each week occurred on a Thursday (the old new Friday) and we would work through the afternoon to have everything ready (stage, sound, ambience, wine/drinks and meal) by around 7.30 and by about 9-ish our house band (me, Tony and Susan Green, James Langteaux, Michael Campion and many others who would sit in from to time)… would play a mixture of my songs, some worship, a song or two requested from the audience and or songs we would make up on the spot. We would do this for about an hour, then we would invite others to perform their music… sometimes we would play with them and other times a whole new band would get up on stage and play.
These were the best days of our lives… and we really had something going on… because people just never wanted to leave. We would be kicking the last body out the door in the wee hours of the morning… and then we’d clean up the place and, when the sun was rising, crawl into our own beds.
These parties were more fun and more satisfying than you could ever imagine. I made friends with people that I would not have met without these kinds of gatherings.
The keyword for us was and remains today… inclusion. We were doing nothing more than including people in our little bubble worlds, sharing our brokenness, our hopes, dreams, our disappointments and our faith. There were no tall fences or barricades for anyone to climb over.
“If you come a knocking, there’s always room for one more”